ROME.- It was an exchange of letters between the President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt and the tycoon art collector Andrew W. Mellon that initiated, in December of 1936, the fascinating history of the most important national museum of America: the National Gallery of Art in Washington. Mellon wrote to the President to offer his great art collection to the State and after only four days, Roosevelt responded positively with disbelief and happiness about the extraordinary proposal. Work began the following year and, despite the death of Mellon that same year, continued without interruption until the inauguration in 1941.
Since then, the collection has been expanded by the work of Mellons daughter and son: Ailsa Mellon Bruce (1901-1969) and Paul Mellon (1907-1999).
In 1978, the invaluable Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collection was transferred to the wing on the ground floor of the East building, which prior to that had been kept by Ailsa and Paul in their private homes. From the sunny spring meadows by Alfred Sisley to the fascinating still lives by Edouard Manet and Paul Cézanne, to the set of "Nabis" intensely composed by Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard, to the saturated and vibrant colors of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, the collection includes masterpieces that tell of inspired innovations in color, touch and composition, which made French painting of the late 1800s one of the key moments in the history of art.
The Ara Pacis Museum in Rome is the only European stop on the tour that brings the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Collection of the Museum outside the halls of the National Gallery of Art in Washington for the first time with the exhibition Gemme dellImpressionismo. Dipinti della National Gallery of Art di Washington. Da Monet a Renoir da Van Gogh a Bonnard. The next stops on the tour will be the Palace of the Legion of Honor of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (California), the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio (Texas), the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum in Tokyo (Japan) and the Seattle Art Museum (State of Washington). In Rome, the exhibition will be open until February 23rd, 2014.
The exhibition, sponsored by Roma Capitale, Department of Culture, Creativity and Artistic Promotion - Capitoline Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, the National Gallery of Art in Washington and organized by Zètema Progetto Cultura, is curated by Mary Morton, head of the Department of French Painting at the National Gallery along with the technical and scientific coordination of Federica Pirani for the Capitoline Superintendence.
The catalog produced by De Luca editori dArte also features an essay by art historian Renato Miracco in which he analyzes the relationships between Italian and French Impressionism.
It is a loan of great value, made possible as a result of an exchange between institutions as part of the project Dream of Rome. In fact, from October 15th to January 26th, 2014, the "Rotunda" of the same National Gallery of Art in Washington is hostimg the beautiful and majestic statue Galata Capitolino (Dying Gaul) from the Capitoline Museum, an initiative that makes up part of 2013 - Year of Italian Culture in the United States.
The exhibition of the Impressionists at the Ara Pacis gathers 68 works and is divided into thematic sections ranging from landscape to portrait, from the female figure to still life to representations of modern life. It is a thematic but also temporal overview, starting from Boudin the precursor to Impressionism and Monets teacher, famous for describing the high-society of the times - until the beginning of Impressionism in the new century with Bonnard and Vuillard.
Among the many masterpieces on display are: At the Races (1875) by Manet; Argenteuil (1872) by Monet; Madame Monet and Her Son (1874); Picking Flowers (1875) and Young Woman Braiding Her Hair (1876) by Renoir; Flower Beds in Holland (1883), one of the first landscapes by van Gogh; The Battle of Love (1880) and still lives by Cézanne; Dancers Backstage (1876-1883) and Self-Portrait with White Collar (1857) by Degas; Self-Portrait Dedicated to Carrière (1888 or 1889) by Gauguin; Study for La Grande Jatte (1884-5) by Seurat; Carmen Gaudin (1885) by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The Artist's Sister at a Window (1869) is also being exhibited, a work by the female protagonist of Impressionism Berthe Morisot, whose painting was defined by Mallarmé as a synthesis of "fury and nonchalance."